Hamas frees 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino: Qatar
November 25, 2023 12:10 AM
A total of 24 hostages -- 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino -- were handed over Friday to the Red Cross in Gaza by Hamas, Qatar, which mediated the deal, said.
"Those released include 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen," foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
He said 39 women and children detained in Israeli jails had also been freed under a deal to exchange hostages seized by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners.
Qatar has led weeks of intense negotiations, coordinating with the US and Egypt, to reach an agreement for the freeing of 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners, a four-day truce and access to humanitarian aid.
A source with knowledge of the talks confirmed to AFP the 10 Thais and one Filipino freed were in addition to the 50 Israeli hostages earmarked for release.
Their release was secured "following the Thai foreign minister's visit to Qatar and mediation efforts by the Qataris and Egyptians," the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The number of hostages due to be freed under the deal staggered over the four-day truce is by far the largest since Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza's militarised border on October 7 and carried out the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
Israel says the attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw around 240 more taken hostage, among them elderly people and children.
In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which the Hamas government says has killed more than 15,000 people, thousands of them children.
Qatar has said the initial four-day truce is designed to be extended if further hostage and prisoner exchanges can be secured.